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Judas hung in effigy, Mexico City, early 20th century

The burning of Judas is an Easter-time ritual in many Orthodox and Catholic Christian communities, where an effigy of Judas Iscariot is burned. Other related mistreatment of Judas effigies include hanging, flogging, and exploding with fireworks.[1][2] Anthropologists generalize these type of activities as "scapegoating rituals". A similar ritual would be the hanging in effigy of Haman and his ten sons during Purim.

Though not an official part of the Easter liturgical cycle, the custom is typically a part of the reenactment of the story of the Passion that is practiced by the faithful during Easter. Customs vary, but the effigy of Judas is typically hanged (reenacting Matthew 27:5) on Good Friday, then burned on the night of Easter Sunday.

In many parts of Latin America this practice occurs on the eve of the new year as a symbol of ridding one's self of evil and beginning a new year in spiritual purity. Some communities observe this ritual using various effigies, including the biblical Judas (who betrayed Jesus). This custom, during which the effigy is burned on a stake, is invariably called "Quema del Año Viejo"[3] meaning literally "the burning of the old year."


Burning of Judas in Juiz de Fora, Brazil, 1909
Creating a Judas figure in form of a devil at a workshop at the Museo de Arte Popular, Mexico City.

The burning of Judas was once widely practiced across Europe, and is still practiced in parts of Greece,[4] Mexico,[5] Brazil,[6] Portugal, Spain, Uruguay, Venezuela, Cyprus where it is called 'lambratzia',[7] the Philippines, and elsewhere.

Judas burnings also took place in the district of Dingle, in Liverpool, England, in the early 20th Century,[8] until it was banned by the authorities. The burning of Judas is not traditional to England, although a very similar custom of burning Catholic rebel Guy Fawkes in effigy exists.

Allegations of antisemitism[edit]

The practice was once cited in the United States State Department's Religious Freedom Report for Greece.[9] The report incorrectly referred to the custom as the "burning of the Jew", whereas in Greece the term always used is "burning of Judas". In response, Archbishop Christodoulos, then head of the Greek Orthodox Church, denied such allegations, stating that this practice refers to the image of "Judas the traitor" and not Jews in general.[10]

In Latin America, despite the controversial nature of anti-Semitism associated with the "burning of the Jew" (one of the custom's many monikers), although the practice does exist in the above stated form it is not regarded as an act of hostility towards the Jewish nation or ethnicity but is simply representative of "evil", thus not differing in any way from the other effigies listed.[11]


  1. ^ Hanging Judas in Mexico
  2. ^ F.F.T. (1902-02-09). "Lenten Days In Mexico. - Curious Customs To Be Seen This Week In The Land Of Montezuma. - Article - Nytimes.Com". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-03-04. 
  3. ^ es:Año viejo
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ http://zedilloworld.presidencia.gob.mx/PAGES/culture/note_semanasanta.html
  6. ^ Novo Milênio: Histórias e Lendas de Santos: Malhação do Judas. Quem lembra?
  7. ^ [2][dead link]
  8. ^ BBC - Liverpool - Local History - Judas Burning
  9. ^ In April 2006, the Central Board of the Jewish Communities of Greece continued to protest the Easter tradition of the burning of a life-size effigy of Judas, sometimes referred to as the "burning of the Jew," which they maintained propagated hatred and fanaticism against Jews. One Greek Orthodox bishop, a local NGO, and the Wiesenthal Center wrote formal objections to this tradition.
  10. ^ ekathimerini.com | Greece is not racist, says irked archbishop
  11. ^ [3][dead link]

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burning_of_Judas — Please support Wikipedia.
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39 news items

PR.com (press release)
Sun, 07 Dec 2014 00:03:45 -0800

Sao Paulo, Brazil, December 07, 2014 --(PR.com)-- Official Launch Trailer, Synopsis and Poster of "Judas” new short film of RZP Filmesdirected by Joel Caetano with production Mariana Zani, responsible for films like “Gato” (best Latin American film in ...
Sun, 31 Mar 2013 04:59:49 -0700

Hundreds of residents of the small suburb nestled on the western edge of Mexico City came together at the town's church to witness the burning of Judas effigies. The crowd burst into cheers as the first reed-and-paper devil-like figure started swirling ...
Tico Times
Mon, 21 Apr 2014 11:56:15 -0700

Police hang out after shutting down effigy burnings during illegal “Burning of Judas” ceremonies while seized effigy dolls chill on the couch. (Courtesy of Public Security Ministry). Due to a high volume of holiday vacationers, raucous beach parties ...
Daily Mail
Sun, 08 Apr 2012 08:10:46 -0700

Each year the family Espinosa has huge puppets made in many different ways to stage the burning of Judas. Clara, 19, a member of 'Jesus Atado a la Columna' plays her. 'Jesus Atado a la Columna'. Clara, 19, a member of 'Jesus Atado a la Columna' plays ...
Tico Times
Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:27:48 -0700

On Saturday, the night before Easter, Costa Rica marks the traditional “Burning of Judas,” where Catholics set flame to effigies of Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Jesus and led to his crucifixion. Though rooted in religious lore, the ...

Latin Times

Mon, 21 Apr 2014 02:56:15 -0700

... and rioters clashed, Ramon Muchacho, Chacao's mayor, said in a Twitter message that there were no bullet injuries. Protesters also burned effigies of Maduro and top government officials as part of a Venezuelan tradition known as the burning of Judas.


Mon, 21 Apr 2014 21:07:30 -0700

Meanwhile in Mexico, hundreds of people gather in a Mexico City suburb on Sunday to celebrate the traditional burning of Judas during the culmination of Holy Week celebrations. The crowd bursts into cheers as Judas, known locally as "Shimo", swirls as ...

Deseret News

Deseret News
Sun, 20 Apr 2014 12:04:13 -0700

In this April 19, 2014 photo, fireworks explode as a group prepares to burn an effigy of Judas, in the courtyard of the Santa Rosa Xochiac church, in Mexico City, just before midnight. The Burning of Judas is an Easter-time ritual in Santa Rosa Xochiac ...

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